“To Drain the Cup” ( Hebrews 9:28 KNOX ) by Carley Evans


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The author of Hebrews emphasizes the offer of Christ is “once for all” and is designed by God the Father “to drain the cup of a world’s sins.” Jesus comes the first time to deal with sin; the second time He comes has nothing whatever to do with sin. Instead He brings salvation “to those who await His coming.”

For some reason, I think of a dishwasher thoroughly cleaning a cup in one wash. I unloaded dishes last night. I’m not sure the reason, but the dishes were sparkling and ultra-clean. Jesus ultra-cleans the cup on His first visit to earth; at His second, He finds the cup thoroughly washed, waiting patiently ( or impatiently ) and ready for use.

and Christ was offered once for all, to drain the cup of a world’s sins; when we see him again, sin will play its part no longer, he will be bringing salvation to those who await his coming. 

“My Love Be With All Of You” ( 1 Corinthians 1: 4 – 5, NEB ) by Carley Evans


Paul tells the believers of the church at Corinth, “I am always thanking God for you. I thank Him for His grace given to you in Christ Jesus. I thank Him for all the enrichment that has come to you in Christ. You possess full knowledge and you can given full expression to it.” Paul sincerely thanks God for these believers. He is grateful to God for His grace and for the knowledge imparted to these believers by Christ Himself. He’s even happy these believers are able to fully express their faith.

 

Yet, Paul has many concerns about their Christian walk — they are divided. (1 Corinthians 1:11, HCSB) They are immature. (1 Corinthians 3:2) They think they are “wise in this age” (1 Corinthians 3:18). They are judgmental. (1 Corinthians 4:5) They are proud. (1 Corinthians 4:6-7) They are immoral. (1 Corinthians 5:1) They take one another to court “before the unrighteous.” (1 Corinthians 6:1) They fight over things that don’t matter in the long run. (1 Corinthians 8: 8) They put their rights above the “weak consciences” of their brothers and sisters in Christ. (1 Corinthians 8:12-13) They refuse to support their spiritual leaders. (1 Corinthians 9:7) They fail to conduct worship in an orderly fashion. (1 Corinthians 11:2; 14:22) They fail to recognize the Lord in the bread and wine of their communion feasts. (1 Corinthians 11:20-21) They forget the resurrection of the body. (1 Corinthians 15:36-37) They are reluctant to take up a collection for the saints. (1 Corinthians 16: 1-2)

 

At the end of his letter, Paul encourages these very same believers. He reminds them that “the churches of Asia greet” them. He tells them that “Priscilla and Aquila greet [them] warmly in the Lord, along with the church that meets in their home. All the brothers greet [them.]” (1 Corinthians 16:19-20)

 

Finally Paul writes, “My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 16:24)

“He Himself Is The Remedy” ( 1 John 2: 2, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“My children, in writing thus to you my purpose is that you should not commit sin. But should anyone commit a sin, we have one to plead our cause with the Father, Jesus Christ, and He is just. He is Himself the remedy for the defilement of our sins, not only our sins only but for the sins of all the world.” (1 John 2: 1 – 2)

Yes, we sin. And, sin defiles us. But, a greater truth exists: Jesus is the remedy for our sin and defilement. Both are destroyed on the Cross.

“God’s act of grace is all out of proportion to Adam’s wrongdoing,” writes Paul. “For the judicial action, following upon the one offense, issues a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace, following upon so many misdeeds, issues a verdict of acquittal.” (Romans 5: 15, 16)

Acquittal, a verdict of not-guilty, is the gift of Jesus Christ to those who believe.

“The conclusion of the matter is this: there is no condemnation for those who are united with Christ Jesus, for in Christ Jesus the life-giving law of the Spirit sets you free from the law of sin and death. What the law can never do, because our lower nature robs it of all potency, God does: by sending His own Son in a form like that of our own sinful nature, and as a sacrifice for sin, He passes judgment against sin within that very nature, so that the commandment of the law finds fulfillment in us, whose conduct, no longer under the control of our lower nature, is directed by the Spirit.” (Romans 8: 1 – 4)

God’s Spirit within us directs us. “Thanks be to God! In a word, then, I myself, subject to God’s law as a rational being, am yet, in my unspiritual nature, a slave to the law of sin.” (Romans 7: 25)

The only rescue, the final remedy is Jesus.

“If we claim to be sinless, we are self-deceived and strangers to the truth. If we confess our sins, He is just, and may be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every kind of wrong; but if we say we have committed no sin, we make Him out to be a liar, and then His Word has no place in us.” (1 John 1: 8 – 10)

“He Turns His Ear” (Psalm 116: 1 – 2, HCSB) by Carley Evans


“I love the Lord because He hears my appeal for mercy. Because He turns His ear to me, I call out to Him as long as I live.”

God is merciful. God’s mercy triumphs over God’s judgement. His mercy triumphs over judgement because of His Son’s sacrificial death and miraculous resurrection. Christ’s shed blood covers our sins so that God is able to be merciful to us.

God tells us that among people “there is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All turn away; all alike are useless. There is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3: 10 – 12) Since everyone “falls short of the glory of God,” everyone is “justified freely by [God’s] grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3: 23, 24)

We are “declared righteous” when we “have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3: 26) Through Jesus’ work, God “hears [our] appeals for mercy.” God is able to “turn His ear to [us].” He is able to be merciful to us, who are sinners saved by grace.

“The Rescue” (Colossians 1: 13, NEB) by Carley Evans


“[God] rescues us from the domain of darkness and brings us away into the kingdom of His dear Son, in whom our release is secured and our sins forgiven.”

Imagine a man drowning in the ocean. He has no way to rescue himself; he has kicked off his shoes, has tread water for as long as he is able; now, he is sinking. His end is near. Now imagine a rescue; perhaps a helicopter spotting him before he goes under for the last time lowers a boom and a strong arm reaches down into the ocean water and pulls him “from the domain of darkness” to safety. His “release” from his death “is secured;” and not by his own efforts.

God rescues us. He secures our release; He forgives us our sins. Not only this, but He “brings us away into the kingdom of His dear Son.” Our salvation is complete; we add nothing to it. The Word of God does not say, “Take two aspirin and call Me in the morning.” The Word of God says, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” The Word of God says, “No one comes to the Father but by Me.”

“Free Indeed” (1 John 1: 7, NEB) by Carley Evans


“We are being cleansed from every sin by the blood of Jesus His Son,” writes the author of 1 John. The act of cleansing us is not ours, but God’s. This act occurs through His Son’s blood, not through our blood. Jesus’ blood cleanses us from every sin, not only from some sin.

As Jesus makes us free, we are free indeed.

Yet, “if we claim to be sinless, we are self-deceived and strangers to the truth.” (1 John 1: 8) Our part in this process is to recognize our sins, confess them, turn from them even if we must recognize them repeatedly, confess them repeatedly, and turn from them repeatedly. Our task is to trust in Jesus’ cleansing blood, which covers us with His righteousness and not our own.

Jesus’ disciples ask how many times we must forgive; Jesus says that forgiveness has no bounds. Forgiveness is limitless as is God’s mercy. For mercy triumphs over judgment.

“The Prayer Of Great Power” (James 5: 16, ESV) by Carley Evans


“And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” (James 5: 15)

James calls us to pray for one another. Our prayers are for healing; our prayers are for forgiveness. We forgive each other; God forgives us.

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power.”

James tells us of Elijah who “prays fervently that it might not rain.” (James 5: 17) For three and a half years, no rain falls until Elijah “prays again, and heaven gives rain, and the earth bears its fruit.” (James 5: 18)

James is certain to remind us that “Elijah is a man with a nature like ours.” (James 5: 17) Yet, his prayer is powerful beyond what we often expect our prayers to be.

Let us pray fervently, confessing our wrongdoings to each other, expecting the best gifts from God. For “the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” (James 5: 11)

“God At Work In Us” (Ephesians 1: 7, ESV) by Carley Evans


Paul says that our redemption is “in Him – the Beloved.” Our salvation is not in ourselves or in another. Rather, we are redeemed “through His blood.” We are not redeemed through the blood of bulls, goats, lambs. Rather, Christ’s blood pays our debts. We are forgiven our sins [trespasses, debts] “according to the riches of His grace.” His grace saves us.

Christ “is the mediator of a new covenant, so that [we] who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death occurs that redeems [us] from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9: 15) Christ “appears once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9: 26)

Paul explains that we are “predestined…for adoption as sons.” (Ephesians 1: 5) Our adoption is possible because of “His glorious grace” (Ephesians 1: 6) and “according to the purpose of His will.” (Ephesians 1: 5) We are not adopted by our will, but by His will.

God “works all things according to the counsel of His will,” reminds Paul. (Ephesians 1: 11) God is the one who is at work in us. He seals us with “the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.” (Ephesians 1: 13 – 14)

Therefore, since God is at work in us, we should praise Him. We should give Him all the glory which is due Him for He sends His Son who willingly dies to make our adoption possible. Hallelujah!

“Clean Inside And Out” (Psalm 51: 7, ESV) by Carley Evans


David asks God to purge him with hyssop. To purge is to “evacuate from the bowels”; hyssop is an herb which may have been used by the Hebrews for indigestion. At any rate, the image is of cleaning the body and the self from the inside out. David also asks God to wash him, so that he will “be whiter than snow.” David desires to be clean inside and out.

He sings, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love, according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalm 51: 1 – 3) “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51: 10 – 11)

“Though Your Sins Are Scarlet” (Isaiah 1: 18, ESV) by Carley Evans


“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord; though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

God asks the people to stop bringing “vain offerings.” He is unable to “endure iniquity and solemn assembly” in the same place, at the same time. (Isaiah 1: 13) The “appointed feasts,” He hates. (Isaiah 1: 14) He is weary of “many prayers” with hands “full of blood” spread out before Him. (Isaiah 1: 15)

God commands, “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before My eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1: 16 – 17)

James writes, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1: 27)

Jesus tells us that those who suffer do not suffer because they are worse sinners. “No , I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13: 3) In other words, “though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow.” As sin increases, grace abounds. Yet, this is not to say that we should commit sins so that grace becomes abundant. Paul says, “By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6: 2)

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove all of your evil deeds from before My eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good,” says our Lord and Savior.